Life Planning: The Simple Technique That Works (it’s not annual planning)

Imagine that you have your whole year planned. You look at your calendar and you know exactly what needs to be done on that day.

And as you do that thing, you know in your heart that this little action will bring you closer to your yearly goals.addventurers-logs

And once you achieve your yearly goals, they will bring you closer to your Life Goals.

O wow, such majestic simplicity.

But for so long, it just didn’t work for me.

The number of times that I have tried to implement a structure in my life, it is just plain embarrassing.

The only motivation I had was the fact that I was trying. God wants us to try, so try I must. The Result is important, yes, but it is not in my direct control. I can only play my part and keep trying.

Continue reading Life Planning: The Simple Technique That Works (it’s not annual planning)

That Fateful Cup of Tea

The following is taken from the Milk Distribution Case Study, a detailed breakdown of how one can start their own small milk brand. Read more about that here.

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200 kilometers away from home, my Mehran parked under the shade, I watch as the tractor pulled away. The trolley being pulled by the tractor is filled with bags of wheat. On its way to be sold to the government.

Agriculture was profitable back then, and I was happily – and silently – thanking God for the good harvest and it was safe to say, I was in a good mood.

Mubarak ho sir jee,” Afzal says, “this is good,” nodding toward the bags of wheat that were huddled together in my crop shed. He’s the munchee – the manager – of the landlord. Tall, fat and an uncontestedly-elected Nazim of the area, Afzal was always helpful. And courteous.

“Chai ho jai!” he says. Yes. Tea would be nice. He knew, from the two years or so of my sporadic visits, my weakness: I can never turn down tea.

So from my small crop shed, we get out of the car and start walking towards the milk center.

Now consider this for a moment: Pakistan is in the top 5 milk producing countries in the world. Punjab is, by far, the largest milk producing province within Pakistan. And two districts in Punjab produce the most milk. In one of those districts, one of the largest milk contractor had his largest milk collection center right next to my leased land. He collected thousands upon thousands of liters of milk every day at this milk center alone. Collecting the milk to sell it to the big milk marketing companies.

It was at this milk center that we sit. The manager of the milk center comes out, greets us and without asking or being told, straight away orders three cups of tea. Wheat is our staple diet, tea is our staple drink.

We talk about the wheat crop, the weather and the milk business. I tell him how I got a 49 maund average over 140 acres and how my partner is pleased with the cash flow. Maybe now I would upgrade from the Mehran to a Baleno. That’d be nice.

He tells me that anticipating the summers, he’s operating on a one point five rupee margin, bringing in some serious cash for the milk center.

I tell him that it’s impressive how his hard work’s paying off. He nods, happy with the praise.

During our engrossing discussions, we are told that the small kitchen – that was within one of the largest milk center in the largest milk-producing province of one of the largest milk-producing countries in the world – is out of milk.

“You guys out of milk! Now that is impressive,” I say. Even Afzal manages a giggle.

But then something remarkable happened: the milk center manager told the tea boy (who was really an old man, not a boy), to go to the tea stall in the nearby market and get some milk. I couldn’t help but ask, “why not take a quarter liter from the thousands that you have in store?”

“O no sir jee,” he smiles, “this milk is not fit for consumption.”

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The problem was glaringly obvious. And sitting there, I had this urge of somehow playing my part in providing a solution.

Can I provide good, “drinkable” milk honestly and profitably to people who do not know the difference?2014-03-01-21

I started selling milk a few months later. In a small vicinity around my house in Lahore, serving up to hundred and fifty houses. I sold milk for about five years, and the enterprise was profitable from the start. Alhumdulillah.

For many, the profits I got were equivalent to – and nothing more than – a healthy pocket money. I was told that “real businessmen” would sell more and more. So I guess I am not a “real businessman”, but I do feel happy that I started something based on the notions of solving a problem, instead of earning a profit.

Starting and doing something “just for the money” is perfectly and absolutely fine. But I felt – and still feel – that there is a far more fulfilling way of starting something.

Unashamedly, I call it for-profit philanthropy.

Find a problem, provide a solution and make it easy for the transaction of money to take place; I think this is the easiest definition of an entrepreneur.

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What do you think? Share your thoughts here.

Like what you read? Don’t forget to share it with your friends please. Thank you.

Women who work What women in Pakistan need

Got a call yesterday. A gentleman from Sahiwal. Introduced himself. Then he told me about her niece. “Her dream has been to start a dairy farm!” he chuckled. “But Khan sahib, she reads your blog and has a question, can you please talk to her?”

Sure.

Then he gave the phone to his niece. She sounded very young.

She needed to ask a very important question.

“How do I take care of young calves,” she asked.

She has a small dairy farm. She has bought my Dairy Farming Guide.

I explained to her that I am not a technician of the field, just someone who has put together the best in the field to get results. Then I explained to her how she needed to access certified, qualified, degree-holding veterinarians.

She thanked me. Repeatedly. The gentleman was back on the phone. Invited me for lunch next time I am in Sahiwal. Which is not as often.

Just another day in the office. I am not a dairy farmer although I have started a dairy farm and written a guide on how to do that.

But this is about stereotypes.

So many women in Pakistan are enterprising.

They work, they start projects that many would think are “not for women”. They break stereotypes everyday here.

They don’t need sympathies.

I applaud the gentleman who obviously helped his niece start her “dream”. One always needs support from someone.

And of course, the woman who is living a part of her dream, she has already broken stereotypes. And it can only be difficult to break stereotypes.

I get a lot of emails from enterprising women, not only from Pakistan. I tell them that I understand that it is not easy, but I don’t offer them sympathies. Not because I am being clever, it is because they don’t ask for any.

My wife is my business partner as well and an independent publisher. My sister has been running a business, employing about 15 people, for the last 15 years. My niece, while still in University, has already started her little enterprise selling hand bags, after taking a one-day crash course with me on “startup methodologies” (she also makes videos and dreams of making a feature-length film one day. Allah khair :) ).

We break stereotypes everyday.

A lot of people think that they can’t start living their dreams. That’s a stereotype of a different kind. As hard to break as any.

I only hope to create content that helps people live closer to their dreams. One life. Let’s live.

What happened in Peshawar (did not stay in Peshawar) I went to Peshawar for the Digital Youth Summit 2014. Here's what happened.

travelling from lahore to peshawar to lahoreA bus ride from Lahore to Peshawar, non stop, takes you 6 hours.

Riding the mighty and monotonous Motorway from Lahore to Islamabad, then to Peshawar, I slept most of the time. Well, tried to.

Two guys at the back were talking loudly, in Pashto. I don’t understand the language, but I know the language of a good time, and they were having a good time. They had a small boy who needed to pee. Never thought it would happen, but they actually got the Daewoo bus service to pull over for a quick, 5 minute stop at one of the many restaurants – qiyaam o ta’aam – on the Motorway.

Continue reading What happened in Peshawar (did not stay in Peshawar) I went to Peshawar for the Digital Youth Summit 2014. Here’s what happened.

Work-Life Balance: Why you should not do it (and do this instead)

I met an old friend. Works in one of the largest banks in Pakistan. He has a high ranking post: he manages the operations for pretty much half of the country.

He told me a little story.

“I was at this opening ceremony on behalf of the bank,” he said, “and one of my office guys, the department head, was with me. It was around 8 o clock at night, all of us there were about to have dinner. So this office guy, this junior of mine, he just casually looks at me and asks, ‘Sir, you have a son, how old is he now?’. I said, ‘yes, he is a year and 2 months now’. We were now at the dinner table, plates being served to us. It was a good function. But then he asked, looking dead straight into my eyes, ‘does he know who you are?’

My friend was not expecting this. He told me that they laughed it off, that yeah, the work load is such that they really don’t have time for their families.

But I could see that my friend was visibly concerned. Continue reading Work-Life Balance: Why you should not do it (and do this instead)